Couple finds success with college project
June 11, 2016
A lot of the work put into obtaining a degree can be questioned as to how it will be used in the future.
For one local couple, a business plan created as part of an assignment, became the model for one of the first commercial hops farms in Northern Nevada.
"I was in school getting my ag science degree with a business administration minor," co-owner and founder of HOPS ENVY, Inc. Chad Kleidosty said. "Part of my course work (at University of Nevada, Reno) was to develop a business plan. I was interning at High Desert Hops Project and created a plan based on that experience."
"The opportunity came up for us to start this farm," co-owner and founder Elysa Kleidosty said. "It was kind of funny to put his business plan, that we thought was just a project for school, to use."
Working with the hops project fueled Chad's growing interest for the alternative crop, as well as he and Elysa's desire to plow head-first into the ever-growing craft beer scene in Northern Nevada.
HOPS ENVY, Inc. has already seen results since the first Michigan-grown seedlings hit the soil June of last year nestled on the back acre of the five-acre The King Venue.
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"We really enjoyed craft beers ourselves before we came up with the idea to start our own hops farm," Chad said. "While I was interning at the hops project I learned that in the state of Nevada there isn't a lot here in terms of getting hops. I also learned that hops was an alternative crop that could actually survive in Nevada's conditions. There is also a high demand for locally grown crops like this."
Tall telephone poles that may look like a series of unfinished circus tents on the outskirts of Gardnerville are actually the supports for the 1,152 hops plants that grow in a climbing manner up ropes suspended from the beams.
The hops plants will need another year or two to be ready for brewing, Chad said.
"Hops generally take three to four years to mature," he said. "Different hops create different aromas and bittering qualities that brewers look for when selecting hops."
HOPS ENVY is focusing on four varieties of hops: Cascade, Centennial, Columbus and Willamette.
Growing in 36 rows, each type of hop has emerged again after the first year's harvest, which is promising considering Nevada can be harsh on new plants.
Caring for an acre's worth of a new crop can be challenging for any new farmer, but Chad and Elysa have upped the difficulty by being some of the only two people with their hands in the soil.
"This has been really hard, but really rewarding," Elysa said. "The wind can be really intense for this small plant, especially when we get them strung up when they get big enough."
Hops is a more stable, adaptive crop thanks to a hardy root system Elysa said.
The alternative crop requires 40 percent less water to sustain itself than alfalfa.
On top of watering on a drip system that penetrates the soil at the base of the plants directly, Chad and Elysa also utilize the grass clippings from the other four acres of The Kings Venue, as well as products from Full Circle Compost.
"We use the grass clippings as a supplement to mulch," Chad said. "The clippings help conserve water, and rebuild the soil. They help jump start the soil by using the land owner's by-product."
Remaining a smaller producing farm allows the Kleidostys to create a personable reputation with the local breweries, including some that are already showing interest in the hops.
The size of the operation also allows Chad and Elysa to focus on creating an organic, sustainable product.
"Because we only have the acre we have the ability to hand harvest, which means we can harvest more often," Elysa said. "Because of our size we are also able to establish relationships with brewers so that when we do have a harvest we can call them up right away and let them know we have fresh hops available."
Interest has already started to buzz from local brewers as well as home brewers.
While creating a local product for local companies is the main focus, Chad and Elysa also hope to expand HOPS ENVY's name into the agri-tourism industry.
"Everyone wants to know where their food comes from, they want to see where the ingredients are coming from," Chad said. "We hope to incorporate HOPS ENVY as an event venue into the business. We want to help bring agri-tourism to the Valley."
The couple will test out the farm as an event venue June 25 hosting Hotter Than Hops Craft Beer Festival.
Local breweries will be on hand with samples of their beer as well as local food vendors.
Part of the proceeds from the event will go towards Rock Steady Boxing, a nonprofit that helps Parkinson's suffers fight back against the disease with non-contact boxing.
Rock Steady Boxing is a group that Elysa has been working with and HOPS ENVY gives both her and Chad an outlet in which to give back to the community.
Although Chad and Elysa work 9-5 jobs for the state, and the farm is their secondary job, being able to create a business that is already generating interest as a couple has been more than enjoyable they both agreed.
"This is our time together, when we're out here weeding or watering or harvesting," Chad said. "When I am away working across the state coming back and working with her out here is something I look forward to. Just being with each other and doing something we both love and care about is so enjoyable."
"It is definitely a labor of love in more than one way," Elysa said. "Marriage and business is a balance I think we've found and are thriving in."
The couple look forward to meeting the demands that the local breweries create for them once their hops are mature and ready for market.
Remaining small and maintainable by the power of their four hands is the main goal and focus for Chad and Elysa, regardless of the amount of effort it will take.
Family, friends and the community helped the couple jump start the business and continue to be an important part of the Kleidosty's growing business.
"When we stand back and look at what we've created, it makes all of the hard work worth it," Elysa said. "It makes it even more worthwhile when people take an interest in what we do."
Tickets for the Hotter Than Hops Craft Beer Festival are $35 in advance or $40 at the door.
Tickets can be purchased on the website at http://www.hopsenvy.com.
For more information on HOPS ENVY, visit Facebook, the website or email email@example.com.